Reliance Industries' chairman Mukesh Ambani in a file photo. Photo: Agencies

India’s Reliance Industries has now entered the renewable energy battery business as part of strengthening its clean energy portfolio.

Its wholly-owned subsidiary Reliance New Energy Solar, along with Bill Gates and Paulson & Co Inc, has announced an investment of US$144 million in Ambri Inc, an energy storage company based in Massachusetts, US.

The Mukesh Ambani-owned company will invest $50 million to acquire 42.3 million shares of preferred stock in Ambri. It is also in discussions with the US firm for an exclusive collaboration to set up a large-scale battery manufacturing facility in India.

In a statement, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate said the investment would help the company commercialize and grow its long-duration energy storage systems business globally. Reliance aims to be a net carbon zero entity by 2035.

While addressing shareholders at its annual general meeting in June, Ambani said: “The age of fossil fuels, which powered economic growth globally for nearly three centuries, cannot continue much longer.”

He announced that the company will invest 750 billion rupees (US$10.11 billion) to set up four large factories to make solar photovoltaic cells, green hydrogen, batteries and fuel cells over the next three years.

“We will collaborate with global leaders in battery technology to achieve the highest reliability for round-the-clock power availability through a combination of generation, storage and grid connectivity,” he had said.

Ambri will manufacture calcium and antimony electrode-based cells that are more economical than lithium-ion batteries, capable of operating safely in any climatic condition even without air-conditioning, and are meant to last for more than 20 years with minimal degradation.

Reliance feels this technology will help shift energy from solar generation during the day to evening. “Ambri’s long-duration energy storage systems will break through the cost, longevity and safety barriers associated with lithium-ion batteries used in grid-scale stationary storage applications,” Reliance said.

Reliance’s new push toward clean energy is expected to bring it into direct competition with the Adani Group and Elon Musk. Adani now has a renewable energy portfolio of 4,954 megawatts, which includes 84% solar capacity (4,180MW), 9% wind-solar hybrid capacity (450MW) and 7% wind capacity (324MW).

Out of this, 1,400MW solar capacity is now operational, while the other 3,554MW is under construction.

In May, Adani acquired SB Energy India from SoftBank of Japan and India’s Bharti Group for an enterprise valuation of approximately $3.5 billion. It had earlier acquired the domestic assets of Sterling and Wilson and Toronto-based SkyPower Global.